Jan 13, 2020 3:25 PM

'Joker' tops Oscar nominations with 11; 3 other films get 10

Posted Jan 13, 2020 3:25 PM

By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

Todd Phillips’ much-debated supervillain origin story and R-rated box-office smash “Joker” topped all films with 11 Academy Awards nominations, while Martin Scorsese’s elegiac crime epic “The Irishman,” Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s Los Angeles fairy tale “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and Sam Mendes’ World War I tale “1917” all trailed close behind with 10 nods apiece.

Those four were among the nine films nominated for best picture, in nominations announced Monday to the 92nd Academy Awards. The others were: “Parasite,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Ford v Ferrari.”

While “Joker” was expected to do well Monday, the academy’s overwhelming support for a movie that was far from a critical favorite was unexpected. The film’s nominations included best actor for Joaquin Phoenix and best director for Phillips.

The results for “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “1917” were nearly just as good.

The 10 nominations for “The Irishman” tied the most for a Netflix film, following “Roma” last year. Scorsese (a one-time winner) was nominated for best director for the ninth time. The film also won nods for Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and its de-aging special effects.

“1917″ followed up its Golden Globes win and strong opening weekend at the box office with nominations not just for its technical achievement (including Mendes’ directing and Roger Deakins’ cinematography) but for best screenplay, too.

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” was also nominated in just about every category it was expected to, including Tarantino for directing and screenplay, best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio and best supporting actor for Brad Pitt.

For the 87th time, the academy selected all-male directing nominees despite a year in which women made historic gains behind the camera. The most likely candidate was Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), who was the last woman nominated, two years ago for “Lady Bird.” “Congratulations to those men,” said Issa Rae, who presented the nominees alongside John Cho.

There were some surprises. Awkwafina, who was poised to become just the second Asian American nominated for best actress (the first, 1936 nominee Merle Oberon, hid her South Asian heritage), wasn’t nominated for her acclaimed leading performance in “The Farewell.” Also overlooked was “Frozen 2,” the highest grossing animated film ever; Beyonce, for her “Lion King” song; or the hit documentary “Apollo 11.”

Most glaringly, Jennifer Lopez, long considered a supporting actress front-runner for her performance in “Hustlers,” was also denied her first Oscar nomination.

Those oversights left the Oscars with their least diverse field since the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the film academy to diversify its membership. The only actor of color nominated was Cynthia Erivo, the British actress, for her Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”

The other nominees for best actress are: Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”; Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”; Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”; Renée Zellweger, “Judy.”

The nominees for best actor are: Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”; Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”; Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker.”

The nominees for best supporting actress are: Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”; Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”; Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”; Florence Pugh, “Little Women”; Margot Robbie, “Bombshell.”

The nominees for best supporting actor are: Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes,”; Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”; Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”; Al Pacino, “The Irishman”.

The nominees for best international film are: “Corpus Christi,” Poland; “Honeyland,” North Macdeonia; “Les Miserables,” France; “Pain and Glory,” Spain; “Parasite,” South Korea.

The best director nominees are: Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite;” Sam Mendes, “1917;” Todd Phillips, “Joker;” Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman;” Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”

The nominees for documentary feature are: “American Factory”; “The Cave”; “The Edge of Democracy”; “For Sama”; “Honeyland.”

The nominees for best animated feature film: “How to Train a Dragon: The Hidden World”; “Toy Story 4”; “I Lost My Body”; “Klaus”; “Missing Link.”

This year’s nominees will for the second straight year go without a host.

The 92nd Academy Awards will take place Feb. 9 in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre. ABC will again broadcast the show, viewership for which last year rose 12% to 29.6 million.

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Jan 13, 2020 3:25 PM
Analysts: Kansas electric rate-making system favors utilities
An independent report suggests three ways to improve how the state's electric utilities rates.  Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service file photo

By BRIAN GRIMMETT
Kansas News Service

An independent review of Kansas’ rising electricity prices shows the current system for setting rates could use some improvements.

In a lengthy report requested by state legislators and submitted by London Economics, analysts concluded three main things: The current ratemaking process has been slightly balanced in favor of utilities, regulators are limited in their ability to protect consumers from paying for underused investments (such as aging coal plants), and additional bill surcharges and have been a key driver of rising rates.

The report looked at rates from all Kansas electric utilities — from co-ops to municipals to Evergy, the largest utility in the state with about 1.5 million customers.

“There are some near-term recommendations,” Evergy Chief Customer Officer Chuck Caisley said. “But the report doesn’t say, ‘Do this and rates will go down’ on any page, any graph, any appendix in the entire thing.”

Lawmakers requested the study in a bill passed during the 2019 legislative session, saying at the time that they were concerned electricity prices were no longer competitive with neighboring states.

They wanted an independent organization to look into the effectiveness of current ratemaking practices and whether there were any options available to state regulators or the legislature to help rates become regionally competitive again.

The report, which came out Wednesday, offered three main suggestions.

Suggestion 1: The Kansas Legislature should create a state energy plan and require utilities to regularly submit an integrated resource plan, or IRP.

The state’s plan would allow the legislative and executive branches to set short and long-term goals about pricing, future transmission needs and renewable energy, giving regulators a clear framework for decision-making. And the IRP would encourage utilities to use the most cost-effective methods for meeting the state’s goals.

Suggestion 2: Lawmakers should consider performance-based regulation, with the state setting targets to incentivize electric companies to be more efficient.  They would then be rewarded for that, rather than solely for building more power plants or transmission lines.

Suggestion 3: The legislature should make laws so that utilities can refinance their loans on older, uneconomic investments. This is a process known as securitization and could potentially ease the financial burden when utilities have to shut down coal-fired power plants and other, less profitable long-term investments.

The responses

Evergy generally supports the recommendations, Caisley said, but working out the details of any proposed legislative changes would be important. He added that Evergy is already working on an IRP as a condition of the merger between Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light.

He also applauded Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly for proposing to work on a new state energy plan last year, well before this report recommended it.

“We are thrilled that we have a governor that realizes that firm policy direction is important for consumers and it’s important for utilities,” he said.

Advocacy groups, such as the Kansas Industrial Consumers Group, which lobbied for the independent study, are worried the state’s high electricity rates are bad for businesses.

“The utilities have prospered in the last decade way above what the S&P 500 is,” organization president Jim Zakoura said, “while the ratepayers in Kansas have seen their rates increase 70%.”

He said the best chance of Kansas seeing competitive rates again is for the legislature to take the recommendations seriously and make sure they’re implemented.

Dorothy Barnett is the executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, a clean-energy advocacy group. She said  state lawmakers and regulators need to finally start planning for grid modernization and the rapid shift to renewable energy.

“It’s time to start talking about different ratemaking structures,” she said.

Ultimately, the report concludes that there is no single, easy fix to reducing Kansas’ electricity rates. Each option considered comes with implementation costs and risks.

The report is the first part of a two-part study; the second part will look at more specific policy choices, such as how to integrate electric vehicles and whether advanced energy technologies like battery storage and microgrids will help consumers. It must be finished by July 1.

Legislators in the House and Senate Utilities Committees are expected to be briefed on the report’s findings when the session begins next week.

Brian Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett or email him at [email protected] The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.